How Maryland's gay marriage vote could echo beyond blue states
Maryland is one of three states that could be the first to endorse gay marriage by popular vote. The Nov. 6 referendum will be a test for African-Americans and could hint at a shift in suburbia.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Pictures Gay marriage debate
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“This is about protecting everyone equally under the law,” Mr. Coates says. “This isn’t about your personal views about homosexuality, or your view on this or that Bible verse.”
Coates believes the question will pass, and that it will give hope to other states with large African-American communities to try to explain the issue of gay marriage through civil rights.
If Maryland voters back Question 6, it could be historic for second reason, as well: Maryland would join Washington, D.C., as the southernmost frontier of same-sex marriage.
“For marriage equality to pass by popular vote for the first time would be a game-changer,” says Kevin Nix, a spokesman for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “Not only for the issue but for Maryland in particular because it would be the first state below the Mason-Dixon Line that has marriage equality.”
While Mr. Brown of the National Organization for Marriage believes gay-marriage opponents will prevail, he argues that even they don't, the vote is not a game changer.
“If it is going to happen, we still have the overwhelming reality that the overwhelming majority of states have voted to” defeat same-sex marriage, he says. “Any state that would vote to do it would be an extreme outlier... That’s not the whole battle.”
But the battle elsewhere in the nation may pivot on people like state Sen. James Brochin. A conservative white Democrat from the wealthy Baltimore exurb of Towson, he initially said he would vote against gay marriage on the grounds that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
But through the informal lobbying of gay friends – like folks he worked with at the snack bar at his daughter’s swim meets – a few particularly revelatory legislative hearings in Annapolis, and the inability to get his preferred legislation allowing civil unions instead of same-sex marriages passed, he gave the marriage-equality bill his support.
“I’m listening to the opposition, and they’re not talking about the word marriage, they’re talking about, ‘Gay people are pedophiles,’ ” Senator Brochin says. “I mean, are you kidding me? This is the side I’m going to be on? This is the legacy I’m going to have? They don’t want them to have the same rights – I want them to have the same rights.”